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There’s something quaint about the way all students and faculty at MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai, greet each other: “Happy day”. It was made all the happier at the valedictory function for the recently concluded holistic life workshop conducted by the Global Adjustments Foundation (GAF), titled Aspiration to Achievement.

Spread over eight weeks, the “finishing school” programme for third year students taught students what it meant to have an aspiration and then to internalise their goals and work towards it. Contrary to popular opinion, a finishing school is not the end; it is the beginning of things to come when students step into the big, bad world.

The programme’s success was summed up best by student representatives who gave feedback on the sessions they went through. Hussaina, a student of Food Science Management, said she had grown up with a fear of facing society. “In our homes, girls have to get engaged after Class 12, and I thought I must do the same,” she said. “But I now feel empowered by positivity. I have a clear path ahead of me and know what to do next. I now have the courage to stand up.”

This sense of empowerment was echoed across students. Akshara, a student of Computer Science, said the workshops helped her control her quick temper. “I would get angry for small things,” she said. “We were taught a method to tackle this. Being quiet and not thinking for 30 seconds. It worked marvellously.” She was also the type of person who would constantly worry about the future, but has now learned to enjoy the small things. “I have started living in the moment.”

There were a lot of stories on how specific modules of the workshop led to personal connections and change. Sociology student Samyukta said that being a combination of Pakistani, Malayali and American by birth had the result of a lot of pandemonium at home. “Cultural intelligence was one large takeaway on a personal level,” she said. “We learned P.R.O.U.D. communication: saying precisely what you mean to say, and in a way to help the other person understand.”

A fun and growing important module in today’s climate, was titled “Build my life, build my country”, on unity, integrity and compassion. Students from different regional backgrounds would face each other and ask and answer questions about their own culture. Anagha from the journalism stream found it particularly inspirational. “I have always been prouder of my South Indian identity over being an Indian as a whole,” she said. “But I learnt to be accepting, and to break the North–South barrier in my mind. Our country has flaws. We need to recognise and fix them and love our country a bit more. India deserves it.”

GAF also inaugurated a Happiness Centre at MOP Vaishnav College. On the first Wednesday of every month, students can sign up to go in between 10.15 a.m. and 12.15 p.m. and interact with the Foundation’s trainers for counselling, Q&A sessions, meditation, or just simply unwind with some music.

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